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Timeline

Birth of George Washington

George Washington is born to Augustine Washington, a prosperous planter, and Mary Ball, his second wife.

Apr 23, 1743

Death of Washington's Father

Augustine Washington, George's father, dies suddenly of a stomach disorder. George's older half brothers Lawrence and Augustine Jr. inherit most of his property.

1748

Frontier Surveyor

Thanks to the patronage of his brother's friend, Thomas Fairfax, Washington begins working as a surveyor in the Shenandoah Valley.

1751

Smallpox Infection

Washington accompanies his tubercular brother Lawrence to Barbados on a rest cure. While there, he is exposed to smallpox. The experience leaves him immune to the disease but probably contributes to making him unable to have children.

1752

Death of Brother Lawrence

The death of Washington's beloved half brother Lawrence creates a vacancy in the Virginia militia, to which Washington is appointed.

Nov 1753

Mission into Ohio Country

The royal governor of Virginia, Robert Dinwiddie, sends Washington on a daring mission into the Virginia wilderness to contest French claims in the Ohio Country.

1754

Second in Command of Virginia Forces

Responding to increasing tensions with French and Indian neighbors, the Virginia assembly creates a colony-wide force and commissions Washington its second in command.

May 28, 1754

Washington Starts French & Indian War

En route to defending a strategic point, Washington and his forces encounter and slaughter a small detachment of French forces, including their commander, the noble Monsieur Joseph Coulon de Villiers de Jumonville. The Battle of Jumonville Glen, as it came to be known, is generally considered the first encounter of the French and Indian War.

Oct 1754

Resignation from Virginia Command

After the Virginia Assembly declines to vote new taxes for the upkeep of its colony-wide forces, Washington resigns his commission rather than accept a demotion to serve in a smaller company.

Apr 1755

Aide-de-Camp to British General Braddock

Washington joins British general Edward Braddock's staff as a volunteer aide-de-camp.

Jul 9, 1755

Battle of the Monongahela

After a disastrous defeat at the Monongahela River that will cost Braddock his life, Washington rallies the British troops for an organized and protected retreat. Washington will emerge from the "Massacre at Monongahela" with a reputation for bravery under fire.

Aug 1755

Colonel of Virginia Regiment

The Virginia Assembly, concerned about the escalating violence, reconstitutes its military force. Washington is commissioned a full colonel and given command of the Virginia Regiment.

Nov 1758

Attack on Fort Duquesne

Washington leads several hundred colonial troops as part of a victorious British attack on Fort Duquesne. The victory effectively marks the cessation of hostilities around Virginia for the remainder of the French & Indian War.

Dec 1758

Resignation from Virginia Regiment

Washington abruptly resigns his commission as colonel and quits the Virginia Regiment.

Jan 6, 1759

Marriage to Martha Washington

Washington marries Martha Dandridge Custis and becomes, overnight, one of the richest men in the colonies. He will assume the care of Martha's two children, John Parke, known as Jacky (dies in 1781), and Martha, known as Patsy.

1759

Virginia House of Burgesses

Reflecting his new status as a leading man in the community, Washington is elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses. He will become increasingly radical over the course of his fifteen-year service in the House.

1761

Inheritance of Mount Vernon

Washington inherits Mount Vernon following the death of Lawrence's widow.

1765

Stamp Act

The British Parliament passes the Stamp Act, angering colonists up and down the eastern seaboard. Patrick Henry, Washington's friend and colleague, leads the colonial resistance.

1765

British Reject Land Grant Proposal

The British government rejects a proposal by Washington and other Virginia gentry for a land grant to settle parts of the Ohio Country. Five years later, they will accept an almost identical proposal, submitted this time by a group of British noblemen.

Mar 5, 1770

Boston Massacre

British regulars fire on Boston civilians, killing five. The Boston Massacre greatly exacerbates tensions between Britain and the colonies.

Jun 19, 1773

Death of Stepdaughter Patsy

Patsy, Martha Washington's only daughter, dies after suffering an epileptic fit. She is only seventeen years old.

Dec 16, 1773

Boston Tea Party

In protest against the newly passed taxes on tea, Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty, disguised as Indians, raid the British ships docked in Boston harbor and dump their cargo of tea into the Charles River in an act that will become known as the Boston Tea Party.

Mar 1774

Intolerable Acts

The British Parliament responds to the Boston Tea Party by closing Boston Harbor, stripping away many of Massachusetts' self-governing powers and providing de facto immunity to British soldiers. Washington finds the so-called "Intolerable Acts," well, intolerable.

May 1774

Call for Continental Congress

The House of Burgesses, meeting without the authorization of the royal governor, calls for a continent-wide congress to coordinate the colonial response to British injustices.

Jul 1774

Fairfax Resolves

Washington works with his friend George Mason to formulate the "Fairfax Resolves," which strike an aggressive, anti-British tone.

Sep 1774

First Continental Congress

Washington attends the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia as a delegate from Virginia. He provisions himself with military supplies from the great port city before returning home in October.

Apr 19, 1775

Battles of Lexington and Concord

British soldiers and colonial militia clash at Lexington and Concord in what will come to be known as the first battles of the Revolutionary War.

May 10, 1775

Second Continental Congress

The Second Continental Congress convenes in Philadelphia. Washington attends in full military uniform.

Jun 15, 1775

Commander in Chief

At the instigation of John Adams, Washington is appointed commander in chief of the armed forces of the United Colonies.

Jun 15, 1775

Battle of Bunker Hill

Colonial militia fight the Battle of Bunker Hill in Boston, inflicting heavy losses on the British.

Jul 3, 1775

Washington Takes Command

Washington takes command of colonial forces resisting the British occupation of Boston on the banks of the Charles River, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Jul 9, 1776

Reading of Declaration of Independence

Washington, now in New York, orders that the newly published Declaration of Independence be read aloud to the troops.

Dec 26, 1776

Crossing the Delaware

After a series of defeats around New York, Washington scores a surprise victory against the British in a daring attack at Trenton. He will follow it up with another spectacular victory at Princeton a week later.

Oct 17, 1777

Battle of Saratoga

General Horatio Gates captures British general John Burgoyne's army at the Battle of Saratoga. The surprising Continental victory spurs France to enter the war as a colonial ally.

Dec 1777

Valley Forge

Washington famously sets up winter quarters at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. Due to lack of funding and poor organization, the Continental army is in tatters.

Sep 15, 1780

Benedict Arnold Changes Sides

General Benedict Arnold, commander of West Point and one of the Continental army's most distinguished veterans, defects to the British.

Mar 1, 1781

Articles of Confederation

Maryland's ratification of the Articles of Confederation makes them the governing document of the new United States of America.

Oct 19, 1781

Victory at Yorktown

Washington leads a joint Continental—French force to victory over British general Charles Cornwallis's forces at Yorktown, Virginia. It is the last major battle of the Revolutionary War.

Nov 5, 1781

Death of Stepson Jacky

Jacky, Martha Washington's only son, succumbs to a fever while serving in his stepfather's army.

Mar 13, 1783

Newburgh Address

Washington delivers his famous Newburgh Address, quieting mutinous officers.

Sep 3, 1783

Official End of Revolutionary War

The Treaty of Paris formally ends the Revolutionary War and recognizes American independence.

Dec 23, 1783

Washington Resigns His Commission

Washington tenders his resignation as commander in chief to the Congress of the Confederation, meeting in Annapolis.

Sep 1786

Shays's Rebellion

The outbreak of Shays's Rebellion convinces Washington that the new government needs to do more to consolidate the Union.

May 1787

Constitutional Convention

Frustrated by the weakness of the Articles of Confederation, Washington chairs the Constitutional Convention to revise them. His signature on the final document guarantees it will be taken seriously.

Jun 21, 1788

Constitution Takes Effect

New Hampshire becomes the ninth state to ratify the Constitution, making it the new law of the land.

Apr 14, 1789

First President

Secretary of the Congress Charles Thomson informs Washington that he has just been elected president of the United States.

Apr 30, 1789

Washington Inaugural

Washington is inaugurated the nation's first president in the temporary capital of New York City.

Jul 14, 1789

Beginning of French Revolution

French revolutionaries storm the Bastille prison in Paris, marking the start of the French Revolution. The Marquis de Lafayette, Washington's close friend, will be an important player in the ongoing Revolution.

Jun 1790

Hamilton Assumes Debts

Washington backs Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton's plan for the national assumption of state debts.

Jul 16, 1790

Beginnings of Washington, DC

Congress instructs Washington to select the location of the permanent capital on the banks of the Potomac River, all but within sight of Washington's Mount Vernon estate. He will spend the next years of his life planning the city that will bear his name.

Feb 1791

Jefferson vs. Hamilton

Federalists backing Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Republicans backing Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson begin to clash over the chartering of a national bank. Washington sides with Hamilton.

Feb 13, 1793

Reelection to Second Term

Convinced that the new division between Federalists and Republicans demands he stay on, Washington stands for a second term. He is reelected unanimously.

Jan 5, 1794

Resignation of Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson resigns from his post as Secretary of State, marking the official rise of a Republican opposition to Washington's Federalist policies.

Mar 3, 1795

Treaty of San Lorenzo

The Treaty of San Lorenzo, signed with Spain, opens the Mississippi River to American navigation, spurring westward expansion.

Aug 18, 1795

Jay's Treaty

Washington signs Jay's Treaty with England, negotiated over the course of the previous year. It avoids war with Britain and protects American commercial interests, but is incredibly unpopular among Republicans.

Sep 19, 1796

Farewell Address

Washington publishes his "Farewell Address" in Philadelphia's American Daily Advertiser.

Mar 4, 1797

John Adams Inaugurated Second President

John Adams is inaugurated as the second president of the United States.

Jul 13, 1798

Washington Assumes Military Command

Worsening relations with France convince Washington to accept nominal command of American military forces. He is commissioned lieutenant general, the rank he will officially hold until his death.

Jul 7, 1799

Washington's Will

Washington drafts his will. In it, he frees all his slaves upon Martha's death.

Death of George Washington

Sick with a throat infection he acquired riding in the rain (and made worse by medical treatment), Washington dies at Mount Vernon. His wife and personal slave are by his side.

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